Dec 28

A New Day Begins

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Photo: USPresswire (click to enlarge)

Behind a defense that held Kentucky to just three second half points, Clemson won its first bowl in four tries, 21-13 over the Wildcats, and sent all-time great player CJ Spiller out a winner. This game did not have the glamour and glitz that Tiger fans were hoping for, but was a big win none the less. Clemson now goes into the offseason with momentum after a 9-win season complete with an ACC Championship Game appearance and a bowl win....But perhaps the biggest story of this night is that Clemson now enters a time where CJ Spiller will not be there.

This was a bigger win than most Tiger fans want to think. And while twenty five years from now we will probably not be reaching for this game first when opening the drawer of DVDs, it still needs to be noted what this win does.

* It is over a respectable SEC opponent. After a loss to South Carolina, this helps even if just a little bit in the ACC-SEC thing.

* It allows the Tigers to most-likely finish the season in the final AP poll - which is big for recruiting. Clemson has been in and out of the top 25 all year - finishing in it would be nice.

* It breaks a three game bowl skid. It has been four seasons since the Tigers have had a good, upbeat feeling going into the offseason. Bowl heartbreakers to Auburn and Nebraska preceded this win (and a 2006 MCB loss to UK).

* It gives CU momentum heading into the offfseason (and into recruits houses). Swinney and Napier and company have been recognized as top recruiters. This win should give the Tigers recruiting a shot in the arm.

* It sends the Tiger seniors out as winners. Not to be overlooked in this group is Jacoby Ford. He has been a solid receiver throughout his career, and both he and CJ Spiller had touchdowns in their final game as Tigers.

* It helps Dabo believe in himself. People just love to give Dabo a hard time as soon as things go wrong. But in the man's very first year, the Tigers won their division, won 9 games, and won a bowl. Give the guy a few years and get back with me.

Overall, it was a good win and I will take it...

But back to the title of this little article here: "A New Day Begins."

That's right, the day has arrived where CJ Spiller can no longer be counted on play after play after play. In fact, he won't be able to be counted on at all. The best offensive player in Clemson football history has now used up his eligibilty, and is moving on to the NFL. He was a treat in every sense of the word, and to say he will be missed is almost too obvious to write down.

Every time the ball came his way you held your breath because you knew there existed a very real chance he would score. His speed and his moves are just plain different from other players. But he didn't just supply the Tigers touchdowns with his fancy footwork. He was also one of the better receiving threats the Tigers had the last several years, making many touchdown receptions and big yardage pick-ups.

His final career numbers are this: 32 rushing touchdowns and 3,547 rushing yards, 11 receiving touchdowns and 1,420 yards, 7 kickoff return touchdowns, and a punt return touchdown.

Folks, that is 51 touchdowns, and they were done in the most electrifying of ways.

So thank you, Mr. Spiller, for your time in Tiger Town. Thank you for choosing the Tigers that day back in early 2006. Thank you for winning ACC and National Championships for the track team. Thank you for all of your touchdowns and exciting plays. Thank you for returning for your senior season to compete for a Heisman trophy and to get your degree on time.

But mainly, thank you for being a class guy while you were at Clemson. I sadly doubt that I - as a Tiger fan - will ever again see a Clemson player as totally well-rounded as you were.

It's been real.




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